Saturday, March 5, 2011

Good News for Numbies (You know..., like "for Dummies"...?)

How easy it is to get numb to amazing things.

It's like last summer when we traveled to Montana. We were the only ones slamming on the brakes and pulling over to the side of the road to take pictures of the incredible scenery around us. The locals, I guess, had seen it already.

The same kind of thing happened to me when I moved to Japan. For the first few weeks I was constantly dazzled, spinning with wonder at all the new sounds, smells, tastes, architecture, street-scenes, etc, etc, etc. But soon it wore off, and it was just a place I lived. The second it became home, it was no longer mind-blowing.

And just this morning my daughter told me about the flesh-melting reek in one of her labs at school - and how after you've been in there for a while you don't even notice it anymore.

Humans adapt.
Often that's a good thing.
But sometimes it's such a shame.

And that's why it's so refreshing when we're treated to a little shock - when the Holy Spirit shines a sharp light on something we know and have grown numb to, so that for one thrilling moment it becomes shiny and new all over again.

This happens to me quite a bit.

In fact, everything I write about in this blod I write about because it thrills me. But almost none of it is new to me. I often find the same old ideas noted in my journals from years ago, and I can say with absolute certainty that no Scripture I get excited about is something I've never read before.

But, we see, and we know, and we adapt. And the thrill wears off.
With this in mind, let me invite you to read the next three sentences as if it were the very first time.

Forget you've ever seen them, and let the wonder fill you.

    I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
    In the world you will have tribulation.
    But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.1

Wow, right?
What an incredible statement this is!
I would even say that these words of Jesus belong on everyone's list of "Best News Ever".

Much of the beauty is in the simplicity - so few words with so much meaning. But the real power lies in understanding those few words. And that means digging just a little deeper. (But don't let go of the wonder just yet!)

    "Tribulation" means pressure, affliction, distress, pain and oppression. It's what we'll experience during our lifetimes. It's not even a possibility - it's a promise.
    "Peace" (security, tranquility, fearlessness and rest) is what we are able to have despite the tribulation, and during even the most trying of times.

    "Good cheer" = comfortedcourageousstrengthened. Often translated as "take heart".
    "Overcome" means conquer, vanquish and take absolute victory over. It means that the tough times cannot break us, and they will not leave us eternally bruised. The power they had to do so (and they did have it once) has been destroyed.

In other words:
We are delivered. We are empowered.
We can suffer and at the same time know tranquility.

    In the world you will have tribulation.
    But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Now, enjoy the shivers while they last!


1 - John 16:33